Two weeks on from the sensational double victory for LADA SPORT ROSNEFT at the Moscow Raceway the Russian team and their three Lada Vesta TC1 cars returned to action in the FIA WTCC on the streets of Vila Real, Portugal today 25th June 2016.
The success from the home event delivered some consequences for the team as in the FIA WTCC success brings plaudits but also penalty in the form of compensation ballast – a system employed to slow the fastest cars to even out the competition. Lada, the fastest team in Moscow forced to carry an unprecedented 70 additional kilos for this race in Portugal.
Nonetheless, LADA SPORT ROSNEFT made the best of the situation with leading points scorer Nicky Catsburg once again the fastest Lada Vesta taking a calculated run in Q2 to show 9th time and secure an opening race front row start, a considerable bonus as the Vila Real track with its close street circuit walls and no margin for error, making overtaking a very difficult proposition.
Catsburg’s teammates Hugo Valente and Gabriele Tarquini were less fortunate having missed out on Q2 progression and will have a difficult race day tomorrow (26th June) starting both races from P13 and P17 respectively.
Catsburg described what it is like to drive a closed cockpit racing car in the heat of the Portuguese day on such a challenging track This is a very difficult place to drive, it is very easy to make a mistake here and with the weight in the car and the proximity of the walls it can all go wrong for a driver very quickly. It was a tough session, the track surface is very inconsistent so I have to be satisfied to get the car through to Q2 and have a front row start. It is really important that I get off the line well tomorrow and try and keep the pack behind me but for sure it is going to be very hot and a very hard race.
Hugo Valente had shown the best pace of all three LADA SPORT ROSNEFT drivers through practice and was disappointed with P13 after qualifying I just lost the pace from the car when it mattered, I was half a second faster on old tyres earlier in the day than I was in qualifying on a new set (of Yokohama tyres) so I am very disappointed not to have done better.
Gabriele Tarquini did not have the best of times through practice and the qualifying session I have had some small issues of one kind or another that we have not sorted fully, and this meant I missed some running. In general, I think it’s a combination of factors heavy weight, hot conditions and lack of experience exactly on this track. Tomorrow’s races will be very hard.
Both of tomorrow’s races will be live on Eurosport TV and streamed live via www.fiawtcc.com at 15.05 and 16.20 CET.